PDA

View Full Version : Those of you that think GU has problems - read this - wow



rawkmandale
03-13-2008, 10:09 PM
Donovan irked that Baby Gators lack excitement, commitment
By Mark Schlabach
ESPN.com
Updated: March 14, 2008

ATLANTA -- There's no question Florida missed the six departed players who helped it win back-to-back national championships.



The Gators missed Joakim Noah's energy, Al Horford's defense, Corey Brewer's versatility, Taurean Green's poise, Lee Humphrey's 3-point shooting and Chris Richard's leadership.



More than anything, though, Florida missed their passion and guts.



Because the players who replaced them sure lack an awful lot in those areas.


[+] EnlargeAP Photo/John Bazemore

Billy Donovan ripped his young players for their lack of commitment and energy after Thursday's loss to Alabama.

Needing to beat Alabama in the first round of the SEC tournament to have any chance at receiving an at-large invitation to the NCAA tournament, the Gators were blasted by the Crimson Tide 80-69 in the Georgia Dome on Thursday night. Florida trailed 30-5 and by as many as 28 points in the first half.



The loss ended a handful of Florida's winning streaks -- 18 straight postseason victories, nine in a row in the SEC tournament and eight consecutive in the Georgia Dome. The Gators finished with a respectable 21-11 record, which was greatly padded by a soft nonconference schedule.



If Florida is left out of the NCAA tournament, it will become the first defending national champion since Kansas failed to make the field following its 1988 title. The Gators have played in the NCAA tournament every season since 1999.



Gators coach Billy Donovan isn't exactly looking forward to next season, either, when five of his program's nine scholarship players become sophomores.



"It's in front of our guys, what it takes to win," Donovan said. "For whatever reason, I haven't brought it out in them. They're not committed to it. But I'm not necessarily really that excited about these guys being sophomores, to be honest. I don't think people change a whole lot, and I don't think you've seen the basketball team change at all this year. So it's hard for me to get overly thrilled or excited."



If you can't tell, Donovan doesn't really like his team. For as much as he tried this season, Donovan could never implore his players to play defense as passionately and hard as they play offense. During the regular season, the Gators ranked 10th in the SEC in field-goal percentage defense, ninth in 3-point percentage defense, 11th in blocked shots and dead last in steals.



The Crimson Tide, which lost 11 of their 16 SEC games during the regular season, made 13 of their first 17 shots. In a span of barely two minutes midway through the first half, Alabama forward Alonzo Gee scored on a pair of alley-oop dunks to make the score 38-14.



"I think we have some talent issues on the defensive end of the floor, footspeed-wise, that sometimes is not all their fault," Donovan said. "But I think we have a commitment issue, too, which bothers me as a coach because I just got done coaching a group the last two years that was so committed. And to be with this group, I don't think just because they're going to be another year older that all of a sudden, everything gets resolved. I don't see that."



Donovan isn't sure what he sees in Florida's future. He recruited his team's five freshmen, who were supposed to be the players that would ultimately replace the departed stars, who won 68 games in two seasons. But Florida's new players look nothing like the old ones.



Last season, the Gators never trailed for a single minute in three games in the SEC tournament, blasting Georgia by 17 points, Ole Miss by 21 and Arkansas by 19. Against Alabama on Thursday night, the Gators never even had a lead.



"With everything that we're playing for, for us to allow ourselves to get that far behind, that's shocking," Florida freshman Chandler Parsons said.


When Parsons told reporters Florida simply wasn't ready to play against Alabama, Donovan bristled at the suggestion.

[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Dave Martin

Now that it appears the two-time defending champs are heading to the NIT, how will the young Gators react to Donovan's comments?

"To say the team wasn't ready to play, I've got to take responsibility for that because I think that's my job," Donovan said. "That's disappointing to hear."



Donovan was disappointed Parsons and Florida's other freshmen weren't excited about playing in their first SEC tournament game.



"I don't know how you can't just be excited," Donovan said. "What have I got to push?"



Donovan watched the same stoic team when practice started in October and admits he was just as worried then. The new Gators lacked the emotion and fire that made the old Gators so good.



During Wednesday morning's practice in Gainesville, Fla., Noah came into the gym screaming and yelling, trying to get the Gators excited about playing in the postseason. Noah, now a rookie forward with the Chicago Bulls, flew into town the night before.



"It was just a totally different disposition," Donovan said. "That's him. I think I fostered it, but I didn't all of the sudden put it in him. I don't know if you're born with it, develop it or just have it. I didn't put it in Noah."



Even after 32 games this season, Donovan still isn't sure if many of his current players have that same determination. Why didn't Donovan know his players might have lacked that fire when he was recruiting them?



"I don't think you ever see it," Donovan said. "I know exactly what I want in a player. I know the makeup I want. We've got good players. They're good players. But they're not so good that we can be [so bad on defense] and really expect to win."



Sophomore forward Marreese Speights, one of four players back from last year's squad, was yanked from the floor in the opening minutes against Alabama for his lackadaisical defense. Speights was plagued by mental lapses and inconsistency throughout the season.



Sophomore Dan Werner, Parsons and freshman Adam Allen have yet to prove they're more than complementary players. Jai Lucas, a 5-foot-11 guard, who was considered a recruiting coup when he chose Florida over Kentucky and Oklahoma State, might be a few inches too short to be truly effective.



Freshman guard Nick Calathes, the team's leading scorer and playmaker, and forward Alex Tyus are the only current Gators who really resemble the old ones.



"I think there's some personnel issues, no question about it," Donovan said. "I don't think we're a quick, athletic team. When we line up and play against the physical, athletic teams, we get exposed."



Donovan isn't sure how he's going to immediately fix the Gators' problems. Donovan insists his program is in the midst of a major rebuilding job, which he says won't be completed before next season.



How long the reconstruction actually takes will ultimately be up to his players.



"You can't lose three [NBA] lottery picks for the first time in the history of the sport, lose five NBA players and the leading 3-point shooter in the history of the NCAA tournament and not expect to miss a beat," Donovan said. "That's not an excuse, that's reality. I wish I could sit here and say this group is going to be really, really good. I think we've got a long road back to being the best."



Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com.

alaskazagnut
03-13-2008, 10:23 PM
Just look at the bottom 4 teams in our own conference and the coaching revolving doors that have become almost the norm.

I truly believe that we as humans think we can ride the shirt tails of those who came before us. Why do you think even as a nation of learned people we still amke the same global policy mistakes as the generations before.

Donovan is calling out his players. The ones who answer will win the ones who don't will leave.

I hope Few does the same thing, but just not publicly. Donovan might be mad but to embarass the kids might, MIGHT be too far.

Bobby Knight wouldn't hesitate to say something like that though. But his kids wouldn't be caught dead not trying.

rawkmandale
03-13-2008, 10:31 PM
I saw Bobby Knight interviewed tonight, and the topic turned to "what does it take to win in the tournament?" and Mr. Knight answered "concentration - really seeing what is going on." Recruiting kids that can concentrate when the pressure is on is clearly a key to winning.

CDC84
03-14-2008, 07:49 AM
I wish Donovan would exercise more patience with his young team. Most people that I know didn't think the Gators were going to be a NCAA tournament team this season, and in fact, they may have performed better than expected. I'm not sure being so public with his disdain is the right way to go. Then again, it's his team, and he knows his kids. If the players were upperclassmen and had a bit more maturity but still did this, then maybe you go public. There are ways of challenging your team without using the media.

I think of lot of this is Billy D. being spoiled by his success. After winning 2 straight national titles, it had to be a frustrating year for him.

RenoZag
03-14-2008, 08:26 AM
Billy D throws his boys under the bus. . .is that news ?

gamagin
03-14-2008, 08:29 AM
Donovan ought to know better.

There's no magic formula. You have to develop, coach and encourage talented athletes as much or more than you spend time simply selecting them for your program. And there are no two alike.

TexasZagFan
03-14-2008, 08:29 AM
I wish Donovan would exercise more patience with his young team. Most people that I know didn't think the Gators were going to be a NCAA tournament team this season, and in fact, they may have performed better than expected. I'm not sure being so public with his disdain is the right way to go. Then again, it's his team, and he knows his kids. If the players were upperclassmen and had a bit more maturity but still did this, then maybe you go public. There are ways of challenging your team without using the media.

I think of lot of this is Billy D. being spoiled by his success. After winning 2 straight national titles, it had to be a frustrating year for him.

CDC, you could be right. OTOH, these top recruits that the BCS schools bring in have had their arses kissed since they were in grade school. In reading that article, it looks like a couple of them get it: if they want to enjoy success at this level, they're going to have to learn to play defense.

It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

CDC84
03-14-2008, 09:45 AM
I hate to inform Billy D. of this, but 90+% of all freshmen college basketball players at the D-1 level do not know how to play defense. It's just a fact of life that every coach has to deal with. College basketball is very often the first time that they are even asked to play D. A lot of the high school stars are told by their HS coaches to play matador D and avoid unnecessary fouls because in order for their team to even have a chance of winning, the star needs to play every minute of the game and stay out of foul difficulty. In college, teams have depth and players can substituted for without the team falling to pieces.

MickMick
03-14-2008, 10:04 AM
I hate to inform Billy D. of this, but 90+% of all freshmen college basketball players at the D-1 level do not know how to play defense. It's just a fact of life that every coach has to deal with. College basketball is very often the first time that they are even asked to play D. A lot of the high school stars are told by their HS coaches to play matador D and avoid unnecessary fouls because in order for their team to even have a chance of winning, the star needs to play every minute of the game and stay out of foul difficulty. In college, teams have depth and players can substituted for without the team falling to pieces.


Knowing the father of a high school player with High Division One skill, I can back this up first hand. The high school coach will pull the player for a brief lecture if he sees an attempt to block a shot. It is very tough on the star interior defender if the defending guards can't set their feet in time to help. Opposing guards constantly attacking inside in an attempt to draw the foul. High School ball is called so much tighter too. Part of the problem is the level of officiating.

Right on with the post CDC :)

zagzealot
03-14-2008, 10:05 AM
This was a big topic of discussion this morning on Colin Cowherd's radio show on ESPN. His take on it was that in college sports vs pro sports, these athletes have to live among the population that cheers for the team. Pros get to go home to their mansions and be protected by their moats and body guards. Student athletes are in the dorms and cafeterias. If a college coach says publicly that he thinks a certain player or group of players doesn't want to win or is lacking in heart/talent that athlete has to deal with that criticism among his peers - which Cowherd says are typically males, 18-22, who may like to drink on occassion and get a little crazy. Cowherd said death threats and violence against student athletes has skyrocketed in recent years.

A coach can criticize a player or team for lack of heart but do it behind closed doors. I think a caller quoted coach Bobby Bowden as saying "do parents spank kids on the front lawn or do they do it in the bedroom?"